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Suffolk Public Schools to start in-person learning for younger grades March 15

Kids in grades Pre-K through 5th grade along with special needs students will return March 15. Students in grades 6-12 will return March 22.

SUFFOLK, Va. — The Suffolk Public Schools board voted on their in-person learning plan that will get their students back in classrooms starting in March.

This comes after Governor Northam called for all school divisions in Virginia to start some in-person instruction by that month after nearly a year where virtual learning has been the primary means of instruction.

In a Thursday evening meeting, the school board met and voted 4-2 to send pre-K through fifth-graders along with special needs students back to school buildings on March 15. Secondary students who are in grades six through 12 will return on March 22.

There's a cap on the number of days kids will be in school each week and a hybrid learning plan will still be in place. Parents can opt to keep their kids virtual if they don't feel comfortable sending them back. 

Parents who agree to in-person learning must acknowledge that their children don't have any coronavirus symptoms before opting into the plan.

During the meeting, Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III was adamant that the division's health plan and mitigation strategies be strictly adhered to.

“We have to make sure our entire school community is aware we’re not going back to normal," Dr. Gordon said. "We have to follow our health plan that we submitted to the Western Tidewater Health District as well as the Virginia Department of Education, we have to follow that to a T.”

Parents will have another opportunity to decide whether they want to opt into the return. Parents will receive a survey on February 16th to change their selected learning model, if they so choose. The hybrid model will contain a mix of in person and online activities, with students attending school 2 days a week and working from home for the other 3.